Our Hawk is back! What does this have to do with our 2014 Vineyard Plan you ask…well, we want to be good stewards of the land by being organic yet grow the best tasting Pinot Noir possible.
2014 Improvement Activities:
1. Install a second irrigation line to 500 weak vines
2. Prune aggressively for 2014 to push root growth and conserve water intake due to the drought.
3. Water vines until “set”, or until the renewal spurs have grown appropriately.
4. Test petiole’s at bloom and make adjustments
5. Incorporate seaweed concentrate into foliar spraying plan to decrease shatter, increase berry size and grow healthier vines.
6. Vary powdery mildew/botrytis spray plan with Botector and Sulfur, in addition to Serenade, Stylet Oil and Soda.
7. Experiment with removing the basal leaves early in the season to avoid powdery mildew/botrytis.
8. Monitor TA and pH along with brix as harvest parameters.
9. Subcontract out bigger jobs if possible.
First, sulfur has been used since the days of the Roman Empire to purify wine containers to control microorganisms. I know there is a push for Natural Wines without sulfur, but I’m not convinced you can reliably make sulfur-less wine. There are things you can do to reduce the need for sulfur, such as: adjust the pH of the wine must lower, making sure the vineyard does not have mold when you pick, being very clean as you make the wine, minimizing the oxygen during winemaking and using a screw top at bottling.
I normally sulfur as soon as I pick the grapes to control any mold in the vineyard to around 30ppm. This will get bound during fermentation and most will fall out at the press. For red wine you sulfur at the end of malolactic fermentation to preserve the wine for aging and then sulfur until bottling to keep the sulfur level high enough to control antibacterial growth. Some people claim it is much better to add a larger amount of sulfur at the end of malolactic fermentation to stop any growth immediately and then only sulfur at bottling. This is what I will do this year.
The table below shows the amount of molecular sulfur needed to protect the wine. Red Wine needs less molecular sulfur since it has tannins. These levels in the table will result in about 0.5 ppm free sulfur, which is what protects the wine. For White Wine you need about 0.8 ppm free sulfur since it does not have tannins. One big item you should notice in the table is that as the pH of the wine increases, the sulfur needed goes up dramatically. Most Pinot’s are around 3.5 to 3.6 pH, but ours is 3.8 due to the age of the vineyard.
Molecular SO2 needed for Stability in ppm
pH White Wine Red Wine
3.0 13 8
3.1 16 10
3.2 21 13
3.3 26 16
3.4 32 20
3.5 40 25
3.6 50 31
3.7 63 39
3.8 79 49
I wanted to test if our 2013 Turtle Vines Pinot Noir had finished malolactic fermentation, so I sent a sample to the lab on Dec 9th.. You can also just look/listen to the wine. If the wine is warm and you no longer have small bubbles coming to the surface or when you open the top and you don’t hear the fermentation…it is complete. However, I have the wine in the garage where it is cold, so instead of warming it up, I took a sample to the lab. In addition, I had them perform other needed tests so it seemed like a good time to get those done.
Alcohol 13.94 % Perfect for a pick at 24 brix
Glucose + Fructose 0.175 % Very dry, you can taste sugar at 0.2%
Malic Acid 5 mg/100ml <30 is considered complete
Volatile Acidity 0.071 g/100ml <0.075 is considered good for red wine
TA 0.465 g/100ml A little low, will see how it tastes later
Botrytis is a fungus that infects grape shoots, flowers, leaves and fruit. If your vineyard gets this fungus, think of a moldy melon, yuck! Why am I worried now? The spread of the fungus sportes is aided by summer rains, heavy dew and juice from split berries. The popular song…”it never rains in California”… is normally correct for Sonoma County. However, a rare storm is heading our way and will drop 1″-2″ of rain on the vineyard. Now I have to worry about Botrytis.
What can be done to prevent Botrytis?
– Have grapes that are not tightly packed. Sauvignon Blanc (see pictures) has a loose cluster but Pinot Noir (see picture) is a tight cluster grape, bad.
– Remove excess shoots and leaf around the cluster to get good air flow – done!
– Organically spray with Stylet Oil, Serenade Max or Sulfur right after it rains. I will do this Friday. Hope it is not to late.
Well the good news is that I needed the rain…the bad news is I may get botrytis in addition to driving potassium into the berries since we are between set and veraison. Lastly, if you look at the Sauvignon Blanc pictures…we will have a great crop this year!!!